Beyond Web 2.0: Proposed Specs to Foster Truth in Elections

Web 2.0 was all about personalizing the web experience. It was great in some ways. I found friends on social networks that owed me money from 40 years ago.

But frankly, in the last election, Web 2.0 failed me. All the attack ads made me wish the web offered a way to tell when someone was:Bullshit

  • Distorting an opponent’s stance
  • Exaggerating egregiously
  • Misrepresenting facts
  • Quoting out of context
  • Putting true facts in a false light
  • Withholding information that changed meaning
  • Embarking on flights of unrestrained falsity.

So I went down to the local bar, cranked up the karaoke machine, sang a chorus of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and mapped out the future of the Internet on the back of a napkin. Below, my personal wish list:

Web 2.1 would have Bullshit Daemons. (In Geek-speak, a daemon is a background process that handles user requests.) I’d like to be able to cursor over suspicious claims like “Obamacare calls for death panels” and have the daemon:

  • Figure out that Obamacare was actually H.R. 3962 from the first session of the 111th Congress
  • Locate the text of the original bill
  • Scan all 1990 pages of it for any phrases related to “death panel” such as “medical review board”
  • Determine (if found) whether such a board had the power to refuse funding for life-saving medical procedures
  • Send me the results and supporting documentation, and if the claim is false…
  • Put a big flashing red “Bullshit” warning across my screen.

Web 2.2 would have Blabber Daemons that would automatically:

  • Tag all references to false and misleading information with the aforementioned  Bullshit (BS) warning
  • Filter BS out of my searches
  • Email my contacts what I found
  • Post the findings on social networks

Web 2.3 would feature Zippo Daemons that would find all images of the biggest fibber each day on the Web. It would then retouch the images to make pants (or skirts) appear  on fire.

Web 2.4 would have an Elementary Education Daemon. It would let me highlight phrases like “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” The daemon would then:

  • Go to the FBI web site
  • Examine the latest Uniform Crime Report
  • Calculate the number of Americans who die from gunshots every day
  • Obtain autopsy photos of each victim
  • Email them to the entire NRA mailing list

Web 2.5 would feature a “What’s That On Your Shoe?” Daemon. This daemon would sniff out the consequences of lies used to justify ill-advised public policies, wars, boondoggles, and massive tax expenditures. It would then send out reminders to all registered voters before the first Tuesday in November.

Web 2.6 would introduce a “Get Real” Daemon that would highlight false flattery and pious platitudes, i.e., when someone calls America a “peace-loving nation.” The daemon would search the Internet for all wars waged in the user’s lifetime, list them by nation, rank order the list and present it to the user. When I ran this search, I found that we’ve been in some kind of war for the last 66 years straight: The Cold War (1947-92), The Korean War (1953-55), The Vietnam War (1955-75), The Contra Wars (1979-80), Grenada (1983), Star Wars (1984-93),  Panama (1989), The War on Drugs (1972 to present), Gulf War I (1990-91), Gulf War II (2003 – present), The War in Afghanistan (2001-present), The War on Terror (2001-present) plus covert wars. Let’s get real; Switzerland is peace loving.

Web 2.7 would have a Roto-Rooter Daemon because campaigning has become such a cesspool. This daemon would attach a Scarlet L to search results on all candidates who misrepresent the truth.

Web 2.8 would feature a Black-Hole Daemon that explained where my tax dollars went. This proposal may not be technically feasible.

Web 2.9 would introduce the Give-It-A-Rest Daemon. After a hard day of trying to figure out campaign claims, this daemon would program a personal robot to massage the pain in my neck, sooth my hyperactive grumble gland, and fetch a cold beer.

That last part sounds more rewarding. Maybe we should just skip from 2.0 to 2.9.

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